Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mathieu Garon Autographed Card

I'll be watching the game tonight, hoping the Los Angeles Kings eliminate the San Jose Sharks; if that happens, I'll be fine with any of the remaining contenders winning the Stanley Cup, as they're all great teams, and all recent winners as well. There's something to be said about consistency, especially the year that Lindy Ruff and Alain Vigneault end up losing their jobs...

While I featured Jonathan Quick yesterday, I thought I'd talk about the Kings today through another goalie, Mathieu Garon, once a blue-chip prospect, now considered a reliable back-up. He's currently signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but will be in search of a job this summer because they've decided to go with youth rather than experience in front of the net with Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback.

But back to Garon. A second-round (44th overall) pick of the Montréal Canadiens, he was traded to the Kings for Radek Bonk and Cristobal Huet. He faltered a bit in his firts season with the Kings in 2005-06, posting a 3.22 GAA and a .894 save percentage with a decent 31-26-3 record, which prompted the team to try out Sean Burke and Dan Cloutier the following season. Ironically, Garon then had the best year of all 5 goalies used by the Kings (13-10-6, 2.66 and .907).

He then signed with the Edmonton Oilers, beginning his remarkable stint as one of the best back-ups in the league, posting a 26-18-1 record including a 10-0 record in shootouts (stopping 30 of 32 shooters) to go with his 2.66 GAA and .913%. That year he was invited to join Team Canada at the World Championships, and though he didn't log in any minutes, he did earn a silver medal.

The following season, the Oilers sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline, and he got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup backing up Marc-André Fleury.

He then spent two seasons with the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets before being sent to the Lightning. It was during his time with the Jackets that I met him again and got this card signed, from Upper Deck's 2007-08 Victory set (card #189):
He signed it in blue sharpie with his jersey number at the end... notice how he's wearing #31 in the picture but signed 32... he wore 32 with the Jackets, I guess he was just used to signing that number at that point. Apart from their original atrocity, I've always liked the Kings' uniforms, including this one. I just think they should stick to one (or four) designs and stay put rather than change their minds every couple of seasons, but at least their colour scheme (black, silver, white, and at times purple) is a winning combination.

I'm also a fan of the Victory sets. They always look great with a simple-yet-effective design, now mostly with an all-white background, but even this - with a contour inspired by the team's colours - works well. They stopped doing that when teams' third jerseys stopped matching the regular uniforms' colours and the cards would look out of whack. Victory is also among the most affordable sets around, so they're nice to purchase in large numbers (say, a box or two) at the beginning of a season to get them signed.

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